Tag Archives: recovery

What comes after #metoo?

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Alyssa Milano’s suggestion that all women who wanted to show how widespread sexual harassment, sexual assault and abuse are use the #metoo hashtag has gone viral with variations being taken up in other languages.

Some find it empowering, some infuriating. Some simply have used the hashtag (personally, I didn’t go over my stories – I didn’t take all of them to therapy but I did enough work on it to know that, for me, it wouldn’t have been helpful to dredge things up to an even greater extent again this week) while others have pulled no punches in detailing the examples.

Some have seen their perpetrators charged, tried and jailed.

Some have never told a soul until now.

And some men (notably, the wonderful Terry Crews from Brooklyn Nine-Nine) have spoken up about times it’s happened to them. And the fact that it happened to HIM, in front of his WIFE, shows that even with people who stop thinking of women as sex objects and instead like The Rock (click HERE for the brilliant, Rock endorsed advice), size, strength and power doesn’t ensure safety.

When the sky turned an eerie yellow and the sun red on Monday afternoon, I imagined, for a few seconds, that it was the result of so many women’s rage. That our combined anger and rising to say ENOUGH had literally shaken up the world, changing the colour of the sky.

Reading story after story emerge, my emotions rollercoaster in a way they’ve been rollercoastering since 45* announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Sometimes, I feel jaded like nothing can surprise me. Other times, the outrage rises again. Sometimes, this feels empowering. Other times, I feel exhausted by it all.

On the Tube today, seeing  a strange (to me) man glancing at the new report I was reading in the paper, I wanted to ASK him, What do YOU think about all of this? What will YOU do differently, as a man, to help ensure more women and girls are safe if you witness dodgyness? Obviously, I didn’t. I realised also that while I was raging (again) reading it, my face was in normal Tube Face mode and no one would have known about the turbulence I was feeling.

I don’t imagine I’m the only one. So I thought I’d share some thoughts in hopes some of them may help you:

  1. If you’re a man, please pause and bracket your feelings about how the revelations make you feel and ask the women in your life what, if anything, THEY want you to do to support them. The whole ‘What women want’ thing is as ludicrous as trying to define ‘What men want’ as if we were one homogenous group of people who all think and feel the same. Just like you, we’re whole people. My favourite definition of feminism, from Gloria Steinem, is simply this, thinking of women as whole people TOO
  2. If you chose not to #metoo, honour your decision to do what’s right for you. ALWAYS do what feels best for you
  3. If you shared your stories, BE SUPER GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. It’s a brave thing to do. Brene Brown’s work around shame and vulnerability teaches us that when we share our vulnerabilities with people who can hold and support us, we can avoid shame spiralling. The internet is a phenomenal tool for putting us in touch with support we could never have known about before. It can also be used to hurt people. Block people as necessary. Turn off comments if need be. Honour what is right for you
  4. Let your loved ones know what support you need. This isn’t the end of it. More and more high profile cases are coming to light and hard as it can feel to stomach the brutality and injustice, there’s a power in truth coming to light. Again, quoting the glorious Gloria Steinem, ‘The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off’
  5. Keep reminding yourself that you are safe now. You survived. You are so much more that what has been done to you.
  6. Notice what you feel in your body. Pay attention to how you want to move your body, maybe miming fighting back or lashing out many years or even decades later (it may sound silly but so much trauma gets trapped in our bodies, it’s amazing the difference listening, tracking and moving can make – read Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger and Babette Rothchild for more if you’re interested). You may want to mime punching or kicking or screaming or any of the things you were unable to do as you did whatever you needed to do in the actual moment/s
  7. You may simply want to stamp your feet and scream and shout – let it out of your body. If this feels like too much, a walk or, better yet, a good run or energetic swim or push ups or any thing physical which honours the body’s natural fight/flight instinct.
  8. You may want to take up kick boxing or something similar. Lifting weights, becoming more powerful physically can be healing. Maybe dancing it out is more your style. Go to a class or even draw the curtains and go wild in your living room
  9. Drag out your mini trampoline if you have one and JUMP it out. Stamping feet can feel scary or too silly for some but with a rebounder, you can get similar effects
  10. Write a letter to the perpetrators you couldn’t protect yourself from. This is not to send but to get it all out. Burn it and maybe decide if there IS anything you want to say or do in reality (pressing charges etc). Again, whatever you decide, YOU KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
  11. Journal the full spectrum of emotion as and when it feels helpful (if that feels too permanent, use looseleaf paper and burn it safely afterwards or even loo roll and flush it)
  12. Think about a time or imagine a time you felt happy, contented and at ease. Really comfortable in your own skin. It might be a moment from a holiday, from years ago or it might be something completely imaginary – when I was first asked to do this many years ago, I cried because I couldn’t imagine feeling so happily embodied and at ease in my own skin. I started out by imagining myself floating in the sea, far away from people. While I still adore the sea (in real life, too), I’ve built up a comprehensive mental library of happy places to imagine – time giving your brain a break from the horrors of the news / intrusive thoughts not only feels nice but has an impact on our physiology, reducing stress and boosting performance
  13. Woman or man, get whatever support you need and deserve – no one is broken beyond repair. Find a good therapist and/or support group. We can use the rage to heal and make the world a safer place for everyone.

What helps you? Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

* Self-confessed sexual predator and white supremacist President of the US – since Lawrence Fishburne calmly called him 45 on The Daily Show many months ago, I’ve found that this simple number helps take some of the heat out of the pain and disbelief I’ve felt since enough people disregarded his recorded boasts of sexual assault and voted for him anyway

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What might help you recover and ‘repair’? (some inspiration from Gabriel Byrne)

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The delightful Gabriel Byrne is back on UK screens on Sunday in the new 3 part drama, Quirke (pictured).

In an interview with Total TV Guide, he talked about the healthy anger he still felt towards the men who abused him as a child. Asked if he still got angry thinking about his past, Byrne said, ‘Yeah, I think so – but it’s a healthy kind of anger. A drive to repair oneself and to ensure that, hopefully, it ends here.’

Whatever trauma/s you’ve been through, remember that you have survived. You are safe now. You too can recover and ‘repair’. And you deserve whatever support you need to make the process more manageable for you.

Yes, it can feel infuriating to think how challenging simple things (staying alive) have been. Survivors can spend a lifetime just surviving. But that’s no small thing.

What does recovery mean to you?

What can you do to support your own reparation process?

Have you been able to (safely and healthily) express your own anger at the injustice and cruelty of it all? There may be many levels to your anger, not just at the perpetrators and systems that allowed it but the people you love who didn’t protect you.

What happens in your life today that is a hangover from that?

Even if it feels completely beyond your reach, what would you like life to look like?

It may be having even one day when you don’t think about the trauma/s or where those thoughts aren’t so triggering…

And if you’d like my support with any such issues, find out more at ptsdwitham.co.uk and get in touch today.

Metta x

Image courtesy of byrneholics.com

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Couch Coaching: My new hero (Betty and Coretta)

BettyandCoretta

Next time you feel overwhelmed, traumatised (their home was fire bombed before Malcolm X was killed in front of her and her children), grief-stricken, spare a thought for the amazing Dr Betty Shabazz.

I grew up aware of Dr King’s legacy (I remember us solemnly learning about the then new Day when I was at a previously segregated elementary school in Wilmington, Delaware for 6th grade). I read Malcolm X’s memoir as a teenager. And I’d remembered, from somewhere along the way, that Coretta was an activist in her own right.

She wouldn’t have married Martin if he wasn’t actively working to help shape the world into a better place for everyone. But, until I saw the Lifetime film, Betty and Coretta, I don’t think I had even heard of Dr Betty Shabazz (played by Mary J Blige).

While Coretta (played by the ever amazing Angela Bassett) spoke out publicly from the time her husband was murdered, Betty, initially, felt that arguing against people who were misunderstanding her late husband’s message (violence as a last resort), was futile.

By the time she was widowed, Betty had 4 children and was pregnant with what turned out to be twins. I feel overwhelmed at the idea of twins on their own. But 6 children? On top of all that trauma, grief, loss and misunderstanding? (Her link with Malcolm X meant she faced a lot of extra predjudice.) My hero.

I loved watching Betty begin to find her voice and to use it. She went back to college to get her doctorate and spent her life doing her best to empower countless students and others. At one point, she tells a struggling young woman not to thank her but to ‘Pass it on. People helped me when I needed it.’

The film was (for me at least) a bit of a tear-jerker (I lost count of the number of times it made me cry) but a wonderful reminder of this amazing woman and how far so many people have come (and how much further we need to go for social justice for all).

And I know that next time I feel like something’s beyond me, thinking of the amazing Dr Betty Shabazz, will help me dig deeper.

Metta x

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One Billion Rising – Embodied dancing to end rape, abuse and injustice this Valentine’s Day

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You might be interested in this Guardian interview with Eve Ensler by Decca Aitkenhead about becoming embodied, recovery from trauma and abuse and how it’s not enough to think but important to use our whole selves and dance for change and justice (as well as to shift our own energy and empower ourselves).

I met Eve Ensler in New York at her V-Day conference (the first day of my being freelance, in September 2004) and she’s been a huge inspiration to me since first reading her words. Last year, I went to one of the London events for One Billion Rising but this year, I think I’ll just dedicate one of my mini dance breaks to the cause.

Whether you can get to an organised event or just feel like marking it privately, take some time to honour your body and do something that feels good for every cell.

It may be dancing, it might be some yoga, maybe going for a walk or run or simply learning to pause (as often as possible, perhaps set an alarm a few times a day to get into the habit) and notice what’s going on in your body as well as your feelings, spirit and mind.

If you notice anger, you might want to dance or stamp your feet (as with Resolution Magic) to honour the feelings while releasing the stress hormones (and, where trauma is involved, help yourself get back into your body, empowering yourself to shout and stamp and know that you’ve survived and are OK. You are more than the trauma/s).

And whatever’s going on for you, whether you’re one of the 1 in 3 or you’re concerned about loved one/s and you don’t know what do or say (or there’s no trauma but you’re simply having an off day) sending yourself and others Metta (loving kindness) can begin to shift and improve things, too.

Metta x

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